Cytoplasmic “ciliary inclusions” in isolation are not sufficient for the diagnosis of primary ciliary dyskinesia

Timothy J. Vece, Scott D. Sagel, Maimoona A. Zariwala, Kelli M. Sullivan, Kimberlie A. Burns, Susan K. Dutcher, Roman Yusupov, Margaret W. Leigh, Michael R. Knowles

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2 Scopus citations


Background: The diagnosis of primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is difficult and requires a combination of clinical features, nasal nitric oxide testing, cilia ultrastructural analysis by electron microscopy (EM), and genetics. A recently described cytoplasmic ultrastructural change termed “ciliary inclusions” was reported to be diagnostic of PCD; however, no supporting evidence of PCD was provided. In this study, we sought to confirm, or refute, the diagnosis of PCD in subjects with “ciliary inclusions” on EM. Methods: Six subjects from five families with previous lab reports of “ciliary inclusions” on EMs of ciliated cells were identified and evaluated at a Genetic Disorders of Mucociliary Clearance Consortium site. We performed a detailed clinical history, nasal nitric oxide measurement, genetic testing including whole-exome sequencing (WES), and when possible, repeat ciliary EM study. Results: Only one of six subjects had multiple and persistent clinical features congruent with PCD. No subject had situs inversus. Only one of six subjects had a very low nasal nitric oxide level. No “ciliary inclusions” were found in three subjects who had a repeat ciliary EM, and ciliary axonemal ultrastructures were normal. Genetic testing, including WES, was negative for PCD-causing genes, and for pathogenic variants in gene pathways that might cause “ciliary inclusions,” such as ciliary biogenesis. Conclusion: “Ciliary Inclusions”, in isolation, are not sufficient to diagnosis PCD. If seen, additional studies should be done to pursue an accurate diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-135
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Pulmonology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • cilia EM
  • ciliary inclusions
  • primary ciliary dyskinesia


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